I love sweets and comforting, carby baked goods as much as the next person – probably more. But like many people these days, I am trying to eat more healthily – especially since I've been working very hard at improving my running. Fortunately, thanks to Whole Grain Vegan Baking by Tami Noyes and Celine Steen, I can have my whole grain cake – and eat it, too!
|Caramel Nut Barley Squares|
|Caramel Nut Barley Squares: Profile in yumminess|
As I mentioned, I've been training for some upcoming races – running about 50 miles each week and doing lots of core work. I was delighted to discover was how incredibly energized I felt during my long runs after consuming the treats I made from this book. It's as if they have magical powers [Actually, they do have magical powers; they're called complex carbohydrates]. For example, last Saturday, I made the Caramel Nut Barley Squares, and then sampled 2 or 3.....okay, okay.....more like 4! Then, Sunday morning, I ran 15 miles at a decent clip. I felt like a stud.
|Spelt and Lemon Barley Cookie Bites|
I'm something of a lemon-holic. Luckily for me, this book has plenty of lemony options. As you can see from the first photo, I flagged a bunch of recipes to try. But the Spelt and Barley Lemon Cookie Bites were among the first to catch my eye. These are scrumptious and just like the Caramel Barley Nut Squares, these provide tasty energy for a slow burn. Plus, they are small and quite portable. So if you are an endurance athlete, I highly recommend making a batch, wraping one or two in plastic and taking them along to fuel your long-distance workouts. So much tastier than an energy bar!
Vegan Whole Grain Baking is a winner. I promise that if you buy this book, and your palate – and your pancreas – will thank you, not to mention your family and friends.
The good: A bevy of delectable, sweet and savory whole grain vegan recipes, most of which are super easy. Celine's rustic photos and quaint food styling. Great information on grains and techniques. Cute, fun-to-read headnotes. Clean, easy to read layout. Well-designed. A valid excuse to experiment in the bulk flour bins at Whole Foods.
The not-so-good: I was disappointed with the index. A bunch of recipes were not cross-referenced by ingredients – frustrating when trying to locate them later. Case in point, the Spelt and Barley Lemon Cookies which are listed under "B" for barley, and "S" for spelt, but are not cross-listed under "L" for lemon – which is the ingredient most mortals [like me] will remember. This is not Celine and Tami's fault. I know from experience that publishers usually pay freelances to compile the indices, and often, it's an afterthought or is cut short because they don't want to pay to print a few more pages. But thorough indices are essential in cookbooks: they are supposed to help readers, not frustrate them. End of rant. A minor inconvenience! [I don't know about you, but I just mark up anorexic indices with my own notes, anyway.]
Fortunately for you, Tami and Celine are giving away a copy of Whole Grain Vegan Baking to one lucky reader! All you need to do is leave a comment and tell us your favorite whole grain flour. US Residents only, please. And if you comment, please make sure you leave an email address, blog or some other way I can reach you. Sounds like basic stuff but you'd be surprised at how many "Anonymouses" enter sans contact info.
Good luck. To tide you over until I announce the winner next week, here is Celine and Tami's fab recipe for Morning Boost Muesli.
|Morning Boost Museli. Photo: Celine Steen|
Morning Boost Muesli
We know, we know: There’s technically nothing baked about muesli, but this is a whole grain book after all, and we love muesli too much not to sneak in a recipe for it. Loaded with cracked wheat, wheat germ, heart-healthy spelt flakes, and pleasantly chewy kamut flakes, this breakfast will ensure you won’t get hungry again before lunch.
- 1 cup (235 ml) water
- 53 g (1⁄3 cup) dry cracked wheat
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 240 g (1 cup) plain or vanilla-flavored vegan yogurt
- 1 cup (235 ml) unsweetened pineapple juice
- 24 g (1⁄4 cup) rolled spelt flakes
- 24 g (1⁄4 cup) rolled kamut flakes
- 20 g (2 heaping tablespoons) date crumbles or chopped dried cranberries
- 25 g (1⁄4 cup) pecans, broken into smaller pieces
- 16 g (2 tablespoons) wheat germ
Combine the water, cracked wheat, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly while preparing the rest.
Combine yogurt, juice, spelt and kamut flakes, dates, pecans, and wheat germ in a large bowl. Stir the cooked cracked wheat into the muesli, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to let the flakes plump up. Stir the muesli again before serving. Eventual leftovers will keep well for up to 2 days after preparation when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; stir before serving.
Yield: 3 cups (855 g), 2 large to 4 more modest servings
Serving Suggestions & Variations
• For a fruitier muesli, add 248 g (11⁄2 cups) of fresh pineapple chunks, chopping them finely before stirring them in. Other fruits, such as fresh or thawed berries, would also be fantastic when added upon serving, to further increase the fiber and vitamin profile of this healthy breakfast.
Date crumbles are nuggets made from dried dates, with only oat flour added to prevent clumping. They’re ideal to use in baked goods because there’s no sticky chopping involved, but you can replace them with regular chopped dates without missing a beat.